September 26, 2022


Analysis

Bears 2022 free agency primer: Who is available at offensive tackle?

New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Terron Armstead looks to block against the New England Patriots on Sept. 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Mass.

This was an interesting group at the top until Orlando Brown and Cam Robinson were franchise tagged Tuesday by Kansas City and Jacksonville, respectively. At 26 and 27 years old, they were two of the three biggest prizes at tackle.

You knew it was coming with the wealth of draft picks Kansas City gave up just a year ago for Brown, but Jacksonville is paying a premium for a one-year deal with Robinson, tagging him for the second year in a row.

The biggest prize is Terron Armstead, who will turn 31 in July but is an All Pro left tackle with outstanding character and leadership traits. Those guys don’t come around often.

The rest of this group is aging, very pedestrian or both.

Top available offensive tackles

Armstead: The New Orleans Saints will hate to see Armstead go, but they have little choice with right tackle Ryan Ramczyk having just been paid and sitting with $37.7 million in dead money. The Saints also own the worst cap situation in the league. There’s no way for New Orleans to pay Armstead anywhere near what he’s worth.

At 6-5, 305 pounds, he is a graceful athlete with great technique and will be one of the most expensive players in this year’s market.

There is one big red flag. Armstead has never played a full 16- or 17-game season and has played more than 10 games only twice over the past six years.

Trent Brown: At 6-8, 360 pounds, you’d expect Brown to play on the right side, where he’s played well in the past. But he’s also stood out at left tackle in New England, making him that much more valuable.

Again though, there are injury concerns as Brown has played only 11, five and nine games the past three seasons, respectively.

Eric Fisher: A former No. 1 overall draft choice by a 2013 Kansas City front office that included current Bears general manager Ryan Poles, Fisher was a slow developer but became a Pro Bowl left tackle in 2018 and 2020. The Chiefs cut him after an Achilles injury in the 2020 AFC championship game, but he started 15 games for the Indianapolis Colts last year.

Under-the-radar values

Morgan Moses has played in 114 straight games, starting 113 over six seasons in Washington and then last year with the New York Jets. Brandon Parker is just 26 and took over the starting right tackle spot for the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5 of last season. At 6-8, 320 pounds, he offers plenty to work with.

Chukwuma Okorafor won’t turn 25 until training camp, but he’s started 15 and 16 games, respectively, the past two seasons at right tackle in Pittsburgh. At 6-6, 320 pounds, he can be a mauler in the run game.

A promising third-round pick for the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, Joe Noteboom suffered a torn ACL and missed most of 2019 after winning a starting guard spot and then missed six games the next season with a calf injury.

Bears’ level of need

This depends on what Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus think of youngsters Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom and what they believe their best positions are. Regardless, there is no depth with Jason Peters, Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson all free agents, and a stud left tackle would be manna from heaven for Justin Fields.

Best fits for Bears

Again, a lot depends on what the Bears plan to do with Jenkins and Borom.

Armstead is the one player in free agency the Bears should consider breaking the bank for, if they’re comfortable he can put his injury issues behind him. He is from downstate Belleville and played his high school ball at Cahokia High School.

Fisher could be a nice consolation prize, a lot cheaper and a safer gamble.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.